Don Draper is a problem solver. It’s what he does for a living and it’s how he’s defined himself as a human. It is how he described their roles as advertisers to Peggy when she was striving for more art than science in her work. For his clients, Draper applies his creative force to make ads that solve business problems. In his life, he’s applied his charm, powers of persuasion and financial wherewithal to everything from caring for senile family members to rearranging the living room furniture. For a man whose very identity is based on intricate lies that continually cause problems, Don Draper is an adroit problem solver.
Of course, there are some problems in life that have no cure and for people like Don that is crushing.
Don Draper‘s inspiration has finally been revealed! While working on this week’s Mad Men write up (it’s coming, I promise) I came across yet another fascinating clue related to the inspiration that brought us Don Draper. It’s something Mad Men fans and advertising knobheads like me debate and ruminate over as we sip Old Fashioneds and browse the vintage shops. Everyone from Draper Daniels to George Lois has been deemed the Draper model, but this newest entry might be my favorite: Darrin Stephens from Bewitched.
Steve D. caught Harry Crane’s suggestion that Don meet with Bill Asher in L.A, noting that Asher was “director & later producer of the old sitcom ‘Bewitched,’ which debuted in the fall of 1964. Asher was married to Elizabeth Montgomery, the show’s star. Darrin Stephens, the husband in the show, was a young Madison Ave. advertising executive at the ad agency of McMann & Tate. Darrin was in the ‘creative’ dept. & his boss was Larry Tate, slightly older than Darrin & silver-haired. Darrin was married to a beautiful blond. She was a witch. Hmmmm … any of this sound familiar?”
Now that is amazing cultural referencing within the plotline. God damn the Mad Men writers are good.
I love Christmas. I always have. I especially like pop music Christmas songs from the late-50s and early 60s. They sound so perfect, so happy, and so…well, jolly. But the best of the lot generally include a naughty wink and a nod or a touch of sadness at the thought of loved ones you won’t be seeing this year or ghosts of Christmases past. It is these songs that make up the soundtrack of Christmas 1964 at Sterling Cooper Price & Draper.
What better image of the ideal mid-century American Christmas than that of tree shopping with the family? There they are: Sally, Bobby, Betty and…Henry (AKA, New Daddy). And who should emerge from the shadows but poor, damaged Glen Bishop, the boy the whole neighborhood felt sad for as the product of [gasp!] DIVORCE. Now it’s Glen who’s dishing out the sympathy to young Sally, herself just recently entering this broken family world. Glen drops some wisdom on Sally to score the guilt gifts now before Betty and Henry start in on Family 2.0. Gotta hand it to him, the creepy little bastard is smart.
There was a scene sometime back where Don Draper is in an elevator with a woman and two dopes who are regaling in sexual conquests and fantasies about office girls. The woman is clearly uncomfortable with the conversation and Draper responds with a pointed but subtle gesture by telling one of the cads to remove his hat in the presence of a lady. He puts a fine point on it by removing the hat for him and shoving it into loud mouth’s chest. It was what Mad Men creator Matt Weiner described as an illustration of “the coarsening of America” that took place as a bi-product of the liberated 1960s. From the looks of season four’s premier, that coarsening has infected Mad Men itself.
Season Three ended shortly after the Kennedy assassination, putting it in late 1963. Given the fact that Don Draper is talking to an Advertising Age reporter about the crazy year his upstart agency has just had (culminating in what appears to be a ground breaking ad for Glo-Coat Floor Wax), we can guess that we’re somewhere in 1964 or so. That means it’s a Mod Mod Mod World and by the looks of the décor at the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s headquarters, Manhattan has gone Pop Art.
Proving that 2012 really does mark the end of the world, Mad Men creator Matt Weiner mentioned that he plans to close out the Emmy Award-winning drama (and GLONO obsession) before the lease on Roger Sterling’s Lincoln expires. This season, slated to kick off in July, is the series’ fourth leaving a scant two more seasons. Of course, we heard this talk with The Sopranos…and Scrubs…and any number of shows who overstayed their welcome, not to mention their creative juice.
The A.V. Club reports that Weiner told reporters at last week’s National Association Of Broadcasters that he could “not see writing or even continuing the series past a sixth season.” As much as I love the show, I agree with the A.V. Club’s assessment that it’s much better, from a story perspective, to have an end in sight. It will serve the story better to be driving toward something, rather than meandering aimlessly until some stuffed suit pulls the plug. And I do NOT want to see Draper in polyester. Joan at a key party…? That’s a Showtime spin-off.
We’re all eventually responsible for the relationships we keep. Whether they’re tended carefully and thoughtfully or neglected and ignored, they are ours and sometimes our lives and fates are tied to them. Don Draper has built a life that is as free of real commitment and relationship as is possible while still being a productive member of society. That is about to change.
Conrad Hilton has been playing games with Don since they met in a country club bar on Derby Day. After pulling some free work from Don and romancing him with trips to Europe for a day of meetings, Hilton slapped our man around for not literally putting Hilton Hotels on the moon. But that’s the nature of client services and we all take a beating from time to time. Draper has always had the luxury of an exit plan should things get too gamey though. Or he did until Hilton insisted the principles at Sterling-Cooper be contractually locked in before he’d give the agency his business. That meant old Bert Cooper had to drum up some of his old fighting spirit and put the heavy hand of the law on Draper to sign him to a three-year contract. Don was trapped and it was Connie’s doing.
So imagine Draper’s surprise when Hilton tells him he has to move his business elsewhere since mega agency McCann Erikson was acquiring Don’s parent company Puttnam, Powell and Lowe…and Sterling-Cooper with it.
For those of us who weren’t alive at the time it’s hard to imagine what the 1960s were like. Everything has become a cliché of bellbottoms and velvet coats and massive cars. As fractured and polarized as America is today it’s nothing compared to the riots and street fights and assassinations that wracked that golden decade. But that was mostly in the late 60s, after everything changed. In the autumn of 1963 we were still the great city on the hill but hurtling toward the day when it all came crashing down; when nobody was quite sure what was going on and what you were supposed to do about it…or if you even could do anything about it. It was Friday, November 22.
I don’t know about back in the day but Friday is the day people usually get fired. If you come in to work and the boss asks you to have a seat in your office you can be sure it’s bad news. Pete Campbell wasn’t exactly fired, but he was assured that the path he’s on at Sterling-Cooper was a dead-end. Lane and the men upstairs decided to give Kenny Cosgrove the lead position on Accounts. In explaining his decision Lane tells Pete that while his accounts are made to feel their every needs are met, “Mr. Cosgrove has the rare gift of making them feel as if they haven’t any needs.” In client services, it’s all about anticipating a client’s needs and heading it off at the pass. Playing catch up costs money.
Man, chicks love Twilight. If you live in a cave or haven’t recovered from the Harry Potter madness of five years ago you might not even realize that most of the young people in this country have gone crazy for vampires. Yes, vampires. The ladies in particular love this stuff. A spate of copy-cat movies and TV shows are in the works to capitalize on the success of the Twilight but nothing beats the original…except a sequel…and a tour.
And so it is with great excitement and just a bit of nervous giggling that the New Moon Talent Tour kicks off on a tour of—what else?—malls to celebrate the much-anticipated theatrical release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon on November 20.
Kick off starts in LA with Death Cab for Cutie, Band of Skulls, Sea Wolf, and Anya Marina, and then continues with Anya Marina and Hurricane Bells doing a few separate dates in the US.
I am busting out my best velvet smoking jacket and stealing my lady’s eyeliner and heading straight to Hot Topic to pick up some hot vampire love.
What’s worse than being caught in a lie? Maybe being caught in a lie that you’ve perpetuated for years and one that is the foundation of your entire marital relationship. As his wife Betty says, Don Draper is a very, very talented story teller but a story like Don’s requires you to engage in a suspension of disbelief. Everyone suspected there was something up with Don Draper but nobody wanted to dig deep enough to discover just what. I mean, who wants to destroy a character so perfectly drawn? Who wants to dismantle a fantasy so seamlessly executed? Burt Cooper himself was willing to keep the dream alive as long as he had exclusive rights to Draper’s talents. But everyone eventually wakes up from dreams and this week Betty Draper awoke from hers.
Don Draper is a man who strains against boundaries. He is not one to be kept, not at work and certainly not at home. So it’s no surprise that Draper splashes on a little extra after shave as soon as Betty and the kids hit the road for a week to argue over the dearly departed Grandpa Gene’s estate. Yes, it’s time for a little quality time with The Other Woman.
And what a woman Ms. Ferrell has turned out to be. I think most of us saw a twinkle of Glenn Close in her eyes when she plopped down beside Draper on his morning commute, but she seems more inclined to cook up Don’s dinner than his pet rabbit. “I swear, I’m not talking about our future,” she says to Don in a late night conversation, though she adds that whether she pictures herself in Don’s life or not, she sees an unhappy man. “I’m happy now,” he replies. And who wouldn’t be? Draper lives in the moment and at that moment he had a foxy young school teacher in his arms and a Johnny Walker buzz in his head. Life was good.